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Ask B. Scott: ‘I Don’t Want to Go to an HBCU!’


Dear B. Scott,

My entire family is college educated and went to local HBCUs in and around Atlanta. I’m a rising senior in high school and I’ve been accepted to most colleges on my list, including the alma maters of both my parents and brother. There’s only one problem…

I don’t want to go to an HBCU.

It’s not that I don’t love Black people, I just don’t feel I would be comfortable at a historically Black institution. I’m the youngest sibling and I was raised in the suburbs with primarily White kids my whole life. I know I’m going to college, and I know I want a good education but I don’t want to let my parents down. They’re so proud, even arguing amongst themselves which one I’m going to pick —but I just don’t want to. I’m afraid I’ll be miserable. It’s not even about the money, because I’ll be taking out loans wherever I go.

How do I tell them? What do I say? Do you think they’ll be mad?

Dear Love Muffin,

Kudos to you for making it this far and choosing to pursue higher education.

Deciding where to go to college is a much larger decision than what most people realize.

Your college years happen at a time where you truly figure out who you are as a person and many of the experiences you’ll have will shape and define not only your future career, but also your outlook on life.
Your parents probably want what’s best for you and are projecting their desires onto you because their college experiences left such a lasting impression on them, they just want the same for their baby. I’m sure it’s hard for them to wish something else for their child that they’ve never experienced.

I can talk from experience that the culture at HBCUs is vastly different than that at PWIs (Predominately White Institution). It sounds like you’ve already made your decision, but I would encourage you to do your research and go on several campus tours of both PWIs and HBCUs with your parents. Show them that you’ve considered ALL of your options, and then discuss your choice with them.

Like I said before, your parents want what’s best for you. They might be disappointed that their child won’t be following in their footsteps, but at the end of the day it’s your education.

When it’s all said and done, you are the one that has to decide what’s best for not only your future, but your peace of mind. Relax, don’t stress yourself out, and go with your intuition.


B. Scott

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  1. Concerned Citizen

    I would add, your parents are aware of your upbringing and the culture of HBCUs. Like you, many students who attend HBCUs are raised in a suburban environment around predominantly white people, so don’t feel that you will not fit in. At those types of schools, you really get to see the diversity amongst black people in America. There are those who come from very affluent backgrounds, some like yourself who hail from suburbia, and then there are some who are a product of the inner-city. Unlike many PWI’s, HBCUs tend to be smaller in size (especially the one’s in Atlanta) and there is a greater sense in “community” in that you will build life-long bonds, friendships, actually get to know the Professors and Administrators, and not be considered a number. Like B Scott said, it would be beneficial for you to visit those schools to get a feel for what you will enjoy. The HBCUs in Atlanta are really prestigious and the graduates tend to do well in life, and your parents only want what’s best for you. Keep an open mind, and I’m sure you wont regret your decision.

  2. I was just like this letter writer, and i didn’t consider a HBCU for the same reasons as she has here. Having gone to a PWI, I really wish I’d at least made the attempt at a HBCU. You will be amazed how truly left out you feel when you’re around white people who have never met a black person. Growing up the suburbs is a lot different than going to a college where you are the one black person, and the other white students haven’t known you their whole lives. Before I went there, I had a very naive view of race relations, but I learned quick. Like B. Scott said, definitely do the research and make a campus visit. You might be surprised.

  3. Most college students – HBCU and otherwise – are raised in suburban environments. I wish I had gone to an HBCU. I did not so that I could “broaden my horizons.” But all I ended up doing was going to a white school and hanging out with the few black people there. I would have a much wider network had I attended a HBCU.

  4. I went to an HBCU, and I felt the same way about going to PWI’s (that I wouldn’t feel comfortable being there). At the end of the day, you should chose your school based on what’s best for your prospective career field.
    Sure, being social is very important, but (one of) the goals of going to college is to broaden your career opportunities. If I had the right guidance, I would have went to a PWI for art instead of an HBCU for journalism. Not that their journalism program wasn’t a good, but there were better programs out there for me. I’m a way better web designer than I am a journalist. Do I use my journalism degree? Yes. But I could have been in my career field a lot sooner had I made a choice on my career, versus choosing where I would feel more comfortable in a classroom.
    Now ask me if I keep up with anyone from my HBCU today? The answer is “barely”.

    • If you read ^ this statement closely, you’ll see that I really am better at drawing than I am at writing. Here’s the proof, lol!

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